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Too Soon? Crimea Calls for Russians to Visit as a 'Patriotic Gesture'

March 25, 2014 at 1:32 PM | by | ()

While Ukraine ordered the withdrawal of troops from Crimea yesterday, Russia has been busy planning its summer holiday in its newly-annexed peninsula. Crimea’s First Vice-Premier Rustam Temirgaliev made a statement that asked Russian citizens to pass on their usual destinations in favor of a more "patriotic" choice.

“I’m sure that the coming tourist season will not be upset. Some Russian tourists may find it reasonable to give up tours to Egypt, Turkey or other customary resorts in favour of Crimea,” Temirgaliev told the CrimeaInform news agency on Monday. “Also, this would be a patriotic gesture."

The timing and tone of the request seems like Crimea's way of kicking the Ukraine while it's down, but it's hard to argue the touristic appeal. Its location between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov offers visitors plenty of beach-going opportunities, and as you can see from the cover photo, dramatic historical sites dot the coastlines.

According to Rostourism, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, of the 6 million visitors to Crimea last year, 2 million were Russian. The Association of Tour Operators of Russia said that most of them visited via car or train, and the next step is for more flight options from Russian cities. "It would be optimal to open a regular air link from 15-20 Russian cities as a minimum,” the Association said.

We'll keep an eye on this story and see if the Ukraine has other ideas in terms of border enforcement. There's no question that tourism is going to play a large role for Crimea going forward, however. Last week, the New York Times wondered if its departure from the Ukraine would leave it dependent upon Russia for its economic well being.

[Photo: Crimea Tourism]

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